Product: 6faa48ff-be66-4283-922d-3a9ec4bbaf9f

Metadata Format
Product Title
Modeling snowdrift habitat for polar bear dens
Description
Peer-reviewed publication describing the SnowDens-3D model, which integrated snow physics, weather data, and a high-resolution digital elevation model (DEM) to produce predictions of the timing, distribution, and growth of snowdrifts suitable for polar bear dens.
Project ID
0d43484d-4cb9-4996-88ff-12813cdd4fb0
Project Title
Operational Polar Bear Den Mapping
Point of Contact(s)
LCC Network Data Steward
LCC Network Data Manager
lccdatasteward@fws.gov
Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
1011 E. Tudor Rd
Anchorage, Alaska 99503
V: +1 907 7863532
staff@arcticlcc.org
http://arcticlcc.org
Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
1011 E. Tudor Rd
Anchorage, Alaska 99503
V: +1 907 7863532
staff@arcticlcc.org
http://arcticlcc.org

Product Abstract

Throughout the Arctic most pregnant polar bears (Ursus maritimus) construct maternity dens in seasonal snowdrifts that form in wind-shadowed areas. We developed and verified a spatial snowdrift polar bearden habitat model (SnowDens-3D) that predicts snowdrift locations and depths along Alaska’s Beaufort Sea coast. SnowDens-3D integrated snow physics, weather data, and a high-resolution digital elevation model (DEM) to produce predictions of the timing, distribution, and growth of snowdrifts suitable for polar bear dens. SnowDens-3D assimilated 18 winters (1995 through 2012) of observed daily meteorological data and a 2.5 m grid-increment DEM covering 337.5 km2 of the Beaufort Sea coast, and described the snowdrift depth distributions on 30 November of each winter to approximate the timing of polar bear den entrance. In this region of Alaska, winds that transport snow come from two dominant directions: approximately NE to E (40–110◦T) and SW to W (210–280◦T). These wind directions control the formation and location of snowdrifts. In this area, the terrestrial, coastal mainland and barrier island banks where polar bear dens are found average approximately 3 m high. These banks create snowdrifts that are roughly 2 m deep, which historical den analyses suggest is approximately the minimum snowdepth required for a polar bear den. We compared observed den locations (n = 55) with model-simulated snow-depth distributions for these 18 winters. For the 31 den locations where position accuracy esti-mates were available in the original field notes, 29 locations (97%) had a simulated snowdrift suitable fordenning within that distance. In addition, the model replicated the observed inter-annual variability in snowdrift size and location at historical den sites, suggesting it simulates interactions between the terrain and annual weather factors that produce the snowdrifts polar bears use for dens. The area of viable den habitat ranged from 0.0 ha to 7.6 ha (0.00–0.02% of the 337.5 km2 simulation domain), depending on the winter. SnowDens-3D is available to help management agencies and industry improve their prediction of current polar bear den sites in order to reduce disturbance of denning bears by winter recreational and industrial activities.

Purpose:

Product Links

Product Keywords

  • ISO 19115 Topic Category (isoTopicCategory):
    • environment,
    • geoscientificInformation,
    • elevation,
    • biota
  • Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Science Keywords (theme):
    • TOPOGRAPHY,
    • ANIMAL ECOLOGY AND BEHAVIOR,
    • SNOW DEPTH,
    • REGULATORY MODELS,
    • WIND SPEED/WIND DIRECTION,
    • SNOW,
    • ANIMAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
  • Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Science Keywords (project):
    • SNOW DEPTH,
    • BEARS,
    • SNOW COVER
  • End User Types - Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCC End User Type):
    • State agencies,
    • Federal resource managers,
    • Academics & scientific researchers

Associated Products

ID Title Metadata Link
406cac5a-1e01-45db-9f7d-546b19f27bd6 SnowDens-3D User Documentation mdJSON ISO 19115-2 HTML